Desire, Dirt, and Delight: Community Gardening in Truro, Nova Scotia

“Our desire to reach out is heartfelt and great. We want to share our space and enrich our community”, says Dan Brown, pastor of John Calvin CRC located in Truro, Nova Scotia.

The church’s property includes a field—a perfect place for a community garden. After a number of years of prayer, partnerships, planning, and enthusiastic support from inside and outside the church community, Glenwood Drive Community Garden was created.

Engaging the community was key right from the start. A committee to oversee the garden included both neighbors and congregants.
Workshops on canning and organic farming techniques, a harvest dinner, and raised beds— allowing easier access for those who have disabilities—involved community folks interacting with church folks.

One local gardening enthusiast was able to once again dig in the dirt thanks to one of those raised beds. In time, she attended an outdoor worship service and was able to connect with the greater church community.

Project coordinator Karla Winham said, “The garden has been a catalyst for energy and confidence in ministry for the whole congregation. [Seeing] all the new faces blending and connecting with our community has been vitalizing and encouraging. There has been a noticeable shift in climate in every aspect of our ministry. It has been a tremendous blessing.”

With a new growing season just around the corner, lots of exciting things are coming together for what Winham hopes will be another bountiful year.

“We have big dreams for further infrastructure such as improvements to our rainwater collection system, a driveway, and more raised beds for those with accessibility issues. One of our gardeners has donated a greenhouse into which we hope to put a heater so people can start their seeds early.”

Almost all of 2014’s gardeners will be back this year, as well as some new ones. The committee is committed to strengthening community through improved communication, opportunities to share gardening expertise, and social events.

To the delight of many project participants, the desire to reach out is being met in a place where people can cultivate both the dirt and relationships.

About the Author

Lis Van Harten is director of the Sustaining Pastoral and Congregational Excellence Programs (SPE and SCE).

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